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Sunny Simmons Steincamp

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Everything posted by Sunny Simmons Steincamp

  1. I will second the vote for buying a KitchenAid, although I'll also agree that nothing made today seems to last forever. Mine is a Pro Series and *claims* all-steel transmission & gears (not sure if that means there is no plastic in the motor, though) and is rated for commercial use. My complaint/worry is that, since I use it every day, sometimes several times a day, the motor is going to wear out. There are times when I'm mixing something especially heavy or stiff that it sounds a little vexed with me. I really would like to upgrade to the model a friend of mine has... it has more wattage (although even that's only 575... I've never seen a KA with 700 watts! I can see why you'd be tempted!) The really weird thing is, this newer one retails for over $100 LESS than my Pro 5 series... I'll never figure all that stuff out. And it's a moot point, since my husband would probably put his foot down about spending $469 on a new mixer when mine is still relatively new, and cost more than that to begin with. Hope you find something you like, though!
  2. <img src="http://www.homewitch.net/pix/marsh1d.jpg"> So, here are my little pink poofs. Everyone's loved them so far; my Saturday night crew will be here in a while, and I'm sure they'll be just as thrilled! It took a LONG time to get the syrup up to temperature, but I persevered. I will also use a smaller pan, or try not to spread the mixture out as much next time, so they're fatter. There are a few more pictures & stuff on my food blog, <a href="http://www.homewitch.net">Homewitch.Net.</a> Thanks again for the recipes, advice, and tips! I'll definitely be experimenting with more flavors and stuff!
  3. Well, I stumbled on this thread today thanks to Marmish pointing me this way from another thread, and my first batch of Nightscotsman's vanilla variation is happily resting in the pan. The only catch is, I was out of corn syrup... except for the full and otherwise untouched bottle that had been colored dark red at Halloween! It was the unused fake blood. My daughter thinks this is priceless, even though the stuff is a cheery pink, rather than blood colored, thankfully! I thought about flavoring them with cinnamon, but since my daughter and my husband both really like vanilla, I thought I'd try that first, despite the rather feminine coloring... Will let you know how they turn out!
  4. You're absolutely right. It's easy to forget that when we live in such a cushy, comfortable society. It IS a hard life. I can't claim farmer status, either... we usually classify our little 6+ acres as a homestead, or during the really busy season, I feel better calling it a "farmette." The older I get, too, the more difficult some of the work becomes for me. We also have it real easy here because living out in a very rural area, I have neighbors with whom to barter, farmer's stands all over the place, and a farmer's market in the little town about 30 miles from here. Unlike the farmer's markets that are in the closest cities, it's *really* a local farmer's market... I was shocked at how much foreign or at least far-away stuff was sold at those places. I guess I still drive a fair bit, using gas, to get to the places I shop regularly, but again... we live so far out that it's 30 miles to the closest stop light, much less shopping of any sort!
  5. Looks pretty comprehensive, ambitious, and fabulous to me! If I were going to add anything, it might be a pasta dish... but then I tend to err on the side of overkill, myself. I'd also say to enlist some help, even if it's just for prep work... but again, I'd be in the category of "do as say, not as I do" because I get twitchy if there are other people in my kitchen while I'm on a massive, under-the-gun cooking jag! After the dust settles and you've recovered from the festivities, I'd love to hear about your homemade marsmallows. I can't stand purchased ones, although my family loves them (we have bonfires every Sat. night, so we go through bales of 'em,) and I have always wondered if the homemade ones would taste more, well, like FOOD! Happy birthday, and hope you have a terrific time!
  6. If you want to see something remarkable that illustrates this very point, check out the BBC series "Connections," first episode of the first season. James Burke shows how the invention of the plow changed the course of society and human history in a fundamental way. Not having to engage the entire population of a community in the business of procuring food opened doors for specialization of skills, as some of the society's members were free to explore, experiment, and try new thngs... which led to basic innovations such as implements for cooking and food storage, new tools (beginning with those meant to augment and improve food preparation and such,) and many other basic inventions that were the earliest steps into the world of "technology." Later in the episode, Burke lays out a "breakdown of civilization" scenario when, due to some catastrophic event, our modern system of services breaks down, forcing a modern population to deal with the age-old problem of feeding itself. Fascinating stuff... it's not an alarmist type presentation of the possibility; it is, however, an illuminating look at just how distanced most of us are from the entire process of producing and distributing food. This gave e a giggle, as I seem to have spent a significant portion of my life doing just that... but I can't imagine that it's for everyone, that's for sure. I would also wager it would be *very* difficult in an urban environment... and even though many climates in the world are conducive to growing a wide variety of foodstuffs and supporting livestock, we would definitely give up choices. I seriously doubt I would be able to grow rice here in central Virginia with much success, and my garden was FAR less successful when I lived in central Florida than it has been here, in Tennessee, and in Mississippi.
  7. Everyone's pretty much answered this really well for ya, but I had a couple of thoughts. When I was a very young mother with five little stairsteps (the oldest had just turned 6 when the baby was born,) I found myself a very young <i>single</i> mother with five little stairsteps. While I made enough money as a bartender not to qualify for public assistance like food stamps, it was a real challenge to feed us all nutritiously on just my own income. I had to learn quickly. First of all, are you and your friend in an area that is conducive to gardening? Fresh produce is tough on the budget unless you live someplace rural/agricultural where it can be purchased directly from the growers. I lived in a city (Memphis) with a small yard, but I managed to squeeze in beds everywhere I could so that I could afford to put fresh vegetables on the table. By the second year, I'd gotten the hang of it well enough to add some home-grown goodies to my freezer, as well. Lots of stuff can be grown in containers, if your friend doesn't have a yard, or she might be able to co-op with another friend who does, sharing the work and the bounty. Yes, it takes an awful lot of time and energy when you have little children, but I did it with five of them, while working full time. It *can* be done, if you are determined enough. Besides, it's a wonderful way to spend time with the kids. Mine have been in the kitchen and the garden with me since they were born, whether strapped into a sling or set on the countertop in a baby seat or standing on kitchen chairs pulled up to the counters or helping plant the seed starts or crawling around planting corn. Wonderful memories. My kids don't remember "being poor," but they *do* remember things like that. (I just made myself cry thinking about it... they grow up SO fast!!) I heartily second (or third, or whatever) the notion of buying whole chickens -- not even necessarily the big expensive roasters, either; the $3-4 ones are more economical and still have a lot of potential. Roasted, you can take the "premium" meat (breast, etc.) and use it in a dish where you want pretty white meat, then pick the rest of the meat off and have enough for a batch of chicken salad, or sometimes two casserole dishes, batches of fried rice, baked spagheticken (as my kids called it), or whatever... then the carcass can be made into stock & frozen for yet another meal. When my kids flew the nest (about all at once!) they asked me to put together something so they could make all of our family favorite dishes. As I was designing the "family cookbook" I made sure I included a few things from the really old days, when a couple of cans of tuna was sometimes a luxury. With a little creativity and know-how, you can learn to cook college-kid-broke and still have nutrition & good taste on your plate. I think it's great that you're doing this... good wishes to you and to your young friend!
  8. Thanks! I was just thinking what a wonderful light lunch this would make. We're often so busy during the day that lunch is an afterthought. I'm going to have fun tinkering.
  9. I agree! And you're right... my family is from Memphis, TN and it's incredibly, stiflingly hot in the summertime, and humid beyond belief. You really don't want to be in a hot kitchen in the dog days of August; I LOVED coming in from a day of running around in the outdoors to a slab of grandma's shivery, cool, savory concoction. Do you have any old fashioned aspic recipes?
  10. I'm no photo expert, either, but I've been doing a lot of food photography since I started a cooking blog. One thing I only discovered recently is that my camera (a Fuji Finepix, can't really remember the model number at this moment) has a close up feature. There's a button you can press that takes it to one of two settings, for shots as close as an inch away from the subject! That cleared up my blurring problem to a huge degree right there. The other thing I found is that lighting is far more important that I'd ever realized from just taking pictures of family & stuff. I had to take out the energy saver bulbs (flourescents) and replace them with high wattage incandescents in a stand lamp to get that taken care of. Of course, it's a pain to drag that into my kitchen every time I want to snap a photo of something I'm doing, so I don't always do it, but it makes a huge difference when I *do* go to that trouble. One more thing... if you have Photoshop or Paintshop Pro, you can tweak & play with the images even further. That being said... I'm glad you posted this. I've been meaning to make a new starter for a while, and keep getting sidetracked. When we moved to our new home two years ago, I discovered that whatever strain of wild yeasties we have out here makes WONDERFUL tasting bread! That's one of the things that makes sourdough so interesting and fun, in my book... the differences in flavor you can wind up with.
  11. Absolutely amazing. I'm a visual learner, so this *really* helped me. A friend gave me her recipe for a vegetable strudel, and I've wanted to try it, but was a little daunted by the verbal instructions! It was also cool for another reason... I'm from Memphis originally, so seeing the Commercial Appeal through the sheet of dough was a flash from the past! Thanks for sharing!
  12. My grandmother made what she called tomato aspic, although looking back on it, it was more like congealed gazpacho. YUM. You don't see much of those things anymore either, you're right... and that's too bad. I might have to play around with some in my spare time, too. (Ha. Spare time.)
  13. Funny, I had an embarassing but overwhelming urge for one of these salads not too long ago, and even wrote about it on <a href="http://www.homewitch.net/2006/10/05/bring-back-the-jell-o-salads/">my food blog</a>. I've now been challenged by several people to see if I can come up with one that has *some* sort of nutritional value. Maybe using brie or marscapone or something, and juice instead of flavored Jell-0? Been ruminating on it for a while. As for the sweet potato casserole, I can take it or leave it, but I have to scrape off the marshmallows if it's made that way... they are just disgusting to me. Of course, I also can't stand chocolate, so my opinion about the taste of foods is considered suspect by most folks who know me.
  14. Funny, I just uploaded my family's favorite roll recipe to my blog. They're not particularly sophisticated, but they're definately yummy. I like the fact that they don't take particularly long to make, a great consideration when you're making everything else from uber-scratch, and that their consistency and flavor is just lovely. They are, in fact, a happy accident in my quest to reproduce another dinner roll that I miss terribly, only available from a Memphis landmark restaurant called Buntyn... utter soul food. Maybe one day I'll actually manage to approximate those heavenly-heavy treats, but I'm comforted by the fact that these are pretty darn good in and of themselves. The recipe can be found on my blog <a href="http://www.homewitch.net/">here</a>. If you're looking for something delicious and really, really (REALLY) easy.. give 'em a try. Happy Thanksgiving!
  15. Wow, this makes me feel better... I have always abhorred al dente pasta, and felt inferior and/or unsophisticated because of it. I was wondering this, myself... but... I'm still confused. Maybe in restaurants that make fresh pasta, it is dried for much longer than I've ever done at home, but there's no way I could get my homemade pasta truly "al dente" (not that I'd want to). I *do* like it starchy, and don't rinse it (unless it's going into a pasta salad, that is.) I thought that was pretty much general knowledge, though.
  16. I'm no expert, but my husband adores king crab legs and I make them often... and since we have dinner guests on a very regular basis (every week, unless something else is up on Saturday nights, and sometimes more often!) I've had many an occasion to serve a crowd with them. I always figure 2 pounds per person, plus a few extra pounds worth "for the pot." My husband can eat closer to three, and I'm usually fine with one... as long as there are other sides, of course. For the record, nobody ever walks away hungry, but there are *never* any leftovers, either! Have fun!
  17. I can relate. I'm really wanting to make some, now... but as I no longer work in the restaurant business, I wouldn't know where to get hold of those big white plastic trash-can like 25-gallon barrels, which is what I used before. Hmmm.
  18. nakji, I don't know about the Russian part, but my parents (literally) smuggled me home some cheese that was very similar to what you're describing here. They lived overseas and traveled a lot, and knew of my fascination with "exotic" foods in general, and cheeses in particular. Dad brought me home a brined, smoked, braided cheese that he said came from Sudan, where such a thing is as common as Kraft Singles are here in the American South. (Not that Kraft Singles qualify as cheese, but you get the drift.) He said, however, that this particular cheese was somewhat unusual even in its home country, as most of the cheeses made in that fashion were not smoked, like mine was. It was glorious (to use one of those over-used foodie words.) It was so glorious, in fact, that I undertook to make it myself, and did so with pretty good results, thanks in part to a handy neighbor gentleman who made his own sausages and such, and had his own smokehouse, which he was generous with. I must add that I undertook this project when I had a rather substantial amount of free time on my hands, and that I'm unlikely to have that luxury again anytime soon, but if I *were* to get back into my old hobby of making cheese, this would be one of the perhaps three varieties that I'd make again. I still make my own ricotta, and frankly, reading this thread has quite often made me wonder whether or not I could squeeze just a couple more hours into my days for getting back into cheesemaking...
  19. I'm jealous. I haven't been able to talk my husband into letting me try raising some pigs on our homestead. He's heard the horror stories (supposedly once a pig gets a taste of human flesh, they become a real menace,) and we had friends whose pig pen was apparently a quagmire of mud and muck and hard to clean... another had ones whose pigs kept getting out... so you can see how he's reticent. I tend to think that intelligent design in building their pens would take care of most all those problems, but I'm still working on him. The crunchies brought back memories of my grandmother's. She used them like some folks use those French's fried onions, you know... on top of casseroles and stuff? I don't make many casseroles, but you might find other, similar uses for them. Me, I'd probably just scarf down that whole bowl in no time...
  20. I always had the problem of slipping, sliding caramel coating, too, until I started using a stiff vegetable brush to buff off some of the shine from the apples' skins before dipping, thereby roughing up the surface a little and making it easier for the caramel to stick. Great idea to do it assembly line style, though... we're having a Halloween festival at our place, and while I thought caramel or candied apples would be fun, I wasn't sure I was going to have the time and/or energy to make fifty of them! This is a great compromise, and I think I'll give it a shot. Put some of the kids in charge or something. Thanks!
  21. I have mine grouped in tab folders (I use Firefox.) I had to split them up because I was strangling my browser trying to open them all at once... now I open ten at a time. There are (ahem) ten folders. Many of mine are sites like eGullet, many are magazine food sites (Saveur being one of them!) and other "pro" sites, and a good number are food blogs. I plead research on the number, since I just started my own, and wanted some ideas on design, set up, etc. Now if the photographic tricks would just rub off on me...
  22. I make something that seems really similar; you'd just assemble it a bit differently. I use my focaccia recipe, roll it out into two big rectangles, and let them rise once (barely letting them double.) Then I press down the "poof" with the palms of my hands to flatten the rectangles back out smoothly. Next I cover the surface with chopped pepperoni (not sliced,) and sprinkle with a mixture of whole milk mozz & grated parmsan or the like. Not a really huge layer of cheese. Then I roll the whole thing up like I was making cinnamon rolls, and slice them the same way, pop them onto baking stones, let 'em rise a second time, then bake them off. I figure it'd be easy enough to cut the dough into fillable roll shapes. I devised my method when my son came home from a friend's house wanting "hot pockets." I found it was a lot easier to do the rounds than the pockets when I was making enough for a horde of teenagers. Now they're a movie night favorite. I sure wouldn't mind having a go at one of the "original" ones, though. Will have to ask my (WV native) mother if she's ever had one...
  23. Thanks, guys... I'll try them both. Question, though... since I don't have the benefit of a culinary school education... I thought (and thought my experience has been) that eggs in yeasted breads tend to make them heavier. Richer, yes, but heavier, not softer. Am I confused? Don't get me wrong... that second recipe is very similar to my dinner rolls (only I use honey, and I have a feeling mine are a lot more dense, even than ones made with this recipe) and I LOVE those... but I'm definitely going for soft & light. Some days I really do wish I had gone to cooking school...
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